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  • Accidental Innuendo: "One day, the light touched me." from trailers. That it's the character herself saying it doesn't change the fact the main protagonist's nickname is "Light".
  • Annoying Video Game Helper: Hope's prompts can get very repetitive very quickly. His warnings that it's almost time to come back to the Ark in particular will grate, as he alerts you every 15 in-game minutes, which amounts to about a minute or two in real time before he chimes in to let you know time is almost up.
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  • Arc Fatigue: It's the second sequel to a game that had mixed fan reception in the first place (as did the sequel), the second game had a Downer Ending to a "Shaggy Dog" Story, and the trilogy's plot as a whole contains much Mind Screw and Kudzu Plot. According to official sales info, the game sold barely even half of what the first sequel achieved, an indicator of how many people just didn't care about the end of the trilogy.
  • Best Known for the Fanservice: A case of it working against the game. Many of Lightning's more revealing outfits resemble bikinis, and they got a lot of negative attention since she spent the first two games with a rather underplayed sexuality and it now seemed out-of-character for her to wear such things.
  • Broken Base:
    • Given it is another sequel to Final Fantasy XIII, a game that had already split the base in two, this is to be expected. Also, since Lightning's the only playable character, some fans are not happy. On the other side of the base, fans are actually interested by the idea of a new battle system, as well as the prospect of customization options for Lightning.
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    • Either the game being called Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is a fitting title considering the change in gameplay style from XIII and XIII-2, or it's narmtastic and should've just been called Final Fantasy XIII-3.
    • Cloud's costume and Buster Sword being DLC. Some appreciate the fan service, whilst others are declaring that it's heresy that Lightning is able cosplay as Cloudnote .
    • Aerith's iconic pink dress as DLC. Similar to the above mentioned Cloud DLC, some see it as a very nice nod and reference that they share the same voice actress, while others think that one outfit from VII was more than enough and this one could've been left out.
    • The changes the English dub made to the dialogue in the game's final boss fight and ending caused no small amount of ire on Tumblr and folks who watched the Japanese release of the game before it was released in the West, with opinion split on whether it's a Woolseyism or if too much was Lost in Translation.
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    • The reduced role of Caius left many bitter and annoyed since he went from the strongest villain in the franchise, to a minor one bit boss who shows up in the ending to simply "die", even if he does become a guardian god to all the Yeuls. Some, however, are happy his role was reduced.
  • Captain Obvious Reveal: Bhunivelze is the Big Bad. What, did you think Final Fantasy, especially the XIII trilogy, was going to have a God (with the exception of Etro) that wasn't evil? Even without that, his villainy is very well foreshadowed.
  • Demonic Spiders: A good amount of the enemies qualify.
    • The Dryads, who love to split into four and then gleefully spam Aerora at you in unison. The other demon-type enemies count are just as bad.
    • The Meonekton, which was once a pitifully weak monster in XIII-2, is now an obnoxious pain in the ass to fight: It's difficult to successfully stagger, and it loves spamming high-powered "Force Darts" at you.
    • The Chocobo Eater and its big cousin, the Earth Eater. They have a ton of HP, can inflict debilitating statuses on you, have no elemental weaknesses to pick on, and can deal massive damage with their attacks, enough to kill a high-level Lightning if not Guarded against.
  • Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game: Or more accurately, "Enjoy the Quests, Skip the Battles." Lightning's stats increase by doing quests, not by winning battles. Fighting enemies does not actually improve your character, and thus battles can seem a distraction when you're running around doing quests and keep getting hounded by random encounters. This is also another game with Money for Nothing eventually comes up, thus your reasons for fighting enemies usually end up abstracting down to "you need to farm drop items required for a quest" or "you need to recover EP to use Chronostasis so you have more time to do quests." This is exacerbated by the Last Ones mechanic, which lets you permanently exterminate an enemy type so they stop appearing, thus you get to the point where enemies stop showing up anyway.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Hope's handkerchief got a lot of attention for being a new detail on his outfit.
  • Evil Is Cool: For a given value of "evil", anyway — most who play the game agree that Lumina is a very amusing and interesting antagonist. The interpretation that she's Lightning's childhood character traits that she cast away also endears her to many.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Still Lightning/Hope; people who are against Lolicon and Shotacon are disappointed that Hope is de-aged to 14, though. A lot of the game seems to outright tease that this may even be canon; while Lightning's feelings are ambigious, it's very heavily hinted that Hope loves Lightning, probably in a romantic sense.
  • Game-Breaker: Here.
  • Genius Bonus: Lumina's name very clearly foreshadows her true nature to people familiar with the root languages involved. Lumina is the plural form of lumen, the Latin word for light. It's easy to forget since it's only mentioned twice over three games, but Lightning's real name is Claire, which is French for light. So Lumina's name literally means "multiple lights", and she's an aspect of Lightning given form.
  • Goddamned Boss: The Final Boss' last phase is clearly this. If you know how to do it and have the right skills, he can be beaten in less than two minutes. If you don't, you are going to find out why this phase' boss theme is thirteen minutes long.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Lightning is now a god-like being, guiding people's souls to a new world. And her nickname just happens to be Light.
    • A sidequest detailed that, amongst many of the exploits that the Shadow Hunter, aka Noel, had done, one included him sneaking into the headquarters of the local mega Church, and left a note on their pillow while they slept. This was one of the many things attributed to the legendary real life Assassins. Hmm, an Assassin Noel Kreiss? Where have I heard that before? note 
  • Les Yay:
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • While some people dislike Hope's new design, they love his handkerchief.
    • Blasted fuckball! note 
    • Meow meow choco-chow. note 
    • The game's title is sometimes reinterpreted to mean that Lightning returns a copy of Final Fantasy XIII.
    • Built for sex note 
    • Destiny is destiny.note 
    • Using "Lightning" as a derogatory Fan Nickname for characters in other series perceived to be a Creator's Pet or get unnecessary favoritism, especially if they're subject to fanservice tropes or a romance option for the Author Avatar.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: That glass-shattering sound effect whenever an Artemis' Arrow attack connects.
    • Similarly, the basic stagger 'shock' where most enemies reel back, and Lightning gets to go to town on them.
  • Narm:
    • From the Japan Expo trailer: "One day, the light touched me."
    • The Samurai pre-order armor costume certainly looks awesome on Lightning. Problem is, the fancy way she sheathes her weapon when wearing this suit ends up looking absolutely ridiculous because there is no scabbard. So she's basically sheathing her blade into thin air.
    • The Game Over caused by the end of the world would be actually good if it weren't so anticlimatic. It lasts less than twenty seconds and it is followed by "And so the world ends."
    • The ending of the "Get The Girl" sidequest could have been a real Tearjerker except that Lackley's voice actor (at least in English) hilariously overacts his anguished reaction to hearing of Philiana's death, complete with a truly cringeworthy Big "NO!" that gives Darth Vader a run for his money.
      • He sounded just shy of falling-down-drunk, though, and especially if you have any personal experience with alcoholic loved ones, then his obvious impairment lends the whole situation an uncomfortable and pitiable, even tragic, light.
    • Did you pick your default garb by "Will this be good for starting a fight?" instead of "Will this look dignified in cutscenes about the fate of souls?" Did your tactical preferences come in a Stripperiffic wrapper? Then this trope.
    • A lot of the sidequests' conclusions fall into this. The first time the shocking twist in the end is that the person some Plot Coupon belonged to is long dead, it's sad. The fortieth time it happens, it's plain hilarious. Considering that out of over 60 quests, over 50 end this way...
    • The message on the last loading screen in the game loses some dramatic impact by containing a typo:
    ... his new world will be populated only be the ideal humans.
    • The Last One enemies are bright fuchsia. Not "they have a fuchsia aura," not "they're tinted fuchsia." The entire enemy is recolored bright pink. Depending on your tastes, an epic moment - facing down the last enemy of its genus to exterminate them from the world - is either still epic regardless, the color choice is 'interesting' but the enemy's dead anyway, or is ruined by how absurd they look. All weapons dropped by them share their color scheme as well, equally capable of fulfilling either of the above.
    • Some of the weapons can get rather... odd during cutscenes. Since Lightning wears whatever main garb and weapon you have equipped at that point, it can hurt the intended mood of awesomeness with Lighting menacingly brandishing and then slashing people down with say, Yuna's staff.
  • No Yay: In the Japanese version of the final boss fight, some of his dialogue with Lightning is rather suggestive. He's also saying all this in Hope's voice. These lines were mostly excised from the English dub.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Was anyone expecting Cid Raines to make a surprise appearance as the representative of the dead souls in Chaos?
  • Polished Port: The PC version of Lightning Returns runs very well, and has a host of options for revamped lighting and shading. Originally, the entire XIII trilogy was supposed to come out on PC around the same time. The reactions to the first two games likely lead to this one being delayed by about a year, and subsequently being handled much better.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: Here.
  • That One Achievement: Expert Craftsman is a pain, since it requires you to upgrade 30 head accessories. To do that, you have to reacquire said head accessories on another playthrough, and quite a few are dropped by Last Ones. This can take two full playthroughs to get.
  • That One Boss: May Bhunivelze have mercy on you if you take too long to fight Noel and Snow. After the 7th day, Noel will have his stats increased, represented by a "+" next to his name; the same with Snow after the 5th day, but he takes the cake by having a "++" after the 10th day. Though he does tear off his shirt for this form...
    • While Caius doesn't get a boost if you wait to fight him, he's just as annoying as ever, retaining almost his entire arsenal from the previous game in addition to powerful physical element attacks. Luckily he doesn't get Re-Raise this time.
    • Bhunivelze, thanks to being a Final-Exam Boss from hell. If you can't handle most of the aspects of the game at a fast pace, he will kill you over and over with his wide array of skills, bizarre mechanics, all while you're stuck chipping away at his high resistances.
  • That One Level: The Temple of Chaos can be very annoying. Lightning suffers a constant HP loss on every difficulty above Easy, and it is full of platforming jumps, some of which allow you to fall to the bottom of the room, and some of which allow you to fall all the way to the bottom of the level. The falls won't hurt her, but when the entire game is a Timed Mission, every lost second hurts.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: What really caused ire was the fact that in this game, fighting random battles does not give you any experience points. The only way to increase your stats is to do tons and tons of Side Quests which devolve into Fetch Quests and hunting for 20 Bear Asses over and over again. One let's player noted that this system combined with the time system demands that the player somehow grind while avoiding grinding. Compounding this, as Yahtzee pointed out, is that with the worlds so big and massive and the fetch quests having almost no way to find them out aside from talking to EVERY single person to find out, that precious time gets wasted to do a quest that Lightning may not be strong enough to complete. The only reason to get into fights is to either find a Rare Random Drop, grind gil, or replenish EP. However, it should be noted that if you want better skills, you need to do a lot of skill-fusion, which require you to hunt a lot of monsters since most of them drop skills upon death.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Yeul. While she's certainly responsible for messing up Caius with the heart of Chaos, it's also All There in the Manual that her various reincarnations have faced incredible amounts of loneliness and Abusive Parents, from a hateful mother who resented Yeul after she was born of a one-night stand to another reincarnation's entire family refusing to even so much as speak to her - all of it meaning Caius is often the only person she has who loves her. With that in mind, it's hard to wholly blame her for the situations that come about.

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